ARPA-E Selects Plenoptic TOF Technology at LESA to develop plenoptical occupant-tracking sensor

Dec. 21, 2017
The light-field-based optical sensor will count and track occupants in commercial buildings to reduce HVAC costs.

The Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI; Troy, NY) and the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM) in collaboration with industry partner ABB (Zürich, Switzerland) have been selected to receive a $2.375 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition (SENSOR) program. In the 36 month program, LESA will further develop its plenoptic (light-field) light-sensing technology to develop a low-cost, highly accurate sensor platform for counting, locating, and tracking occupants in commercial buildings. The occupancy information would then be used to reduce building heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) energy costs by up to 30%.

Based on LESA's time-of-flight (TOF) occupancy sensing, its advanced receiver designs developed under its visible light communications program will be integrated with patented plenoptic light-field sensing developed at the University of New Mexico.

Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program, LESA is an interdisciplinary multiuniversity center developing what ist says are "Smart Lighting Systems that See and Think." The Center has academic, industrial, and government partnerships to produce Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled lighting systems that combine digitized LED lighting, new sensing networks, and advanced controls. LESA is headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and partners with Boston University, the University of New Mexico, and Thomas Jefferson University, along with a number of industry members. For more info, see


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